Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 07 2007


I went to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall on Tuesday after work, as that is when Teacher Xu holds his forms practice, and I wanted to work on the empty-hands form I’m slowly learning. A handful of students sat on the veranda, stretching along with the teacher, who later showed me some new parts of the form as well as correcting some mistakes I’d been making in earlier parts.

Afterwards, I was talking with Teacher Xu about tuishou, and apparently one of the students heard me talking. “Do pushhands with me!” he said excitedly as Teacher Xu and the others packed up and left after practice. That should have been my first warning, but I’m always up for tuishou with someone new. Sometimes you find out interesting things.

It soon became apparent that he took winning quite seriously. I tried to start out soft, but soon failed to maintain it as our pushing deteriorated into something more like wrestling, which then became more violent. I felt this a bit dangerous and sat down, but he wasn’t ready to quit. Even after being pushed off balance, he would yank me forward, determined to appear to win the match. “You’re too rigid,” he lectured, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was even more tightly wound than I was.

At one point I managed to push him over despite all of this, using stupid and rough force that has nothing to do with tuishou, but he continued to pull and we both fell in a heap. “That’s it!” I said. “If I wanted to learn about wrestling I would have gone to a wrestling class.” He just looked at me. “Someone’s going to get hurt, ” I added. I was in a foul mood.

So on Wednesday when I went to the actual pushhands class, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it as I usually do. Predictably, I spent the time having it pounded in that despite the amount of time I’ve been doing this, I haven’t managed to integrate anything that I’ve learned. What Teacher Xu does to push over his opponents seems like magic to me; I have no clue how he does it. As for the students, I know how they do it. Except for Mr. You and Yang Qing-feng, most of them just use brute force. Muscle. I can keep up with that for a while, but it’s tiring and it just ingrains bad habits. Pull a guy off the street and he can probably do the same thing.

Teacher Xu says that once you have a reputation, you can’t be seen losing any more, so we should take advantage of this stage to learn all we can by losing. You’d think I would have gleaned something from all these years of losing. But no, I actually haven’t.

It occurs to me that this account is altogether too optimistically titled. “The Misadventures of Teacher Xu’s Least Promising Student” is a bit long, however. Perhaps, someday, Monkey will truly learn to push, but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

posted by Poagao at 5:15 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment